Writing Story Beats


When writing a screenplay, by writing story beats first, it helps you organize your thoughts into a more coherent form. Once you complete writing the story beats, you can then begin writing each scene for your screenplay. By following this approach, you will find that you have a road map to follow with respect to your story beats. So, much of your grunt work goes into the story beats, while most of your creative work goes into the writing of each scene.

Story beats should show each scene in brief form. They do not have to be written in perfect grammar. They simply need to be written down in order. Story beats can be looked upon as idea beats. You have an idea for a scene. What should take place in that scene.? “Oh, yeah, this, this, and this.” Bang! You’ve written your story beats for the first scene. A word of caution, always enter your scene at the last moment and get out of the scene as soon as you can.

For example, on page 1/minute 1 of my screenplay/movie, “The Caller”, I introduce the setting. I introduce the main character. I show what she does as a professional. I show how she acts and reacts around other people. Bang! I move to the next page/scene. The story beats are: Introduce the setting. Introduce the main character. Show what she does as a professional. Show how she acts and reacts around other people. Get out, move to the next page/scene.

Once you get some story beats down, you will find that ideas come up where you want to write more in story beats you’ve already written. So, do that. If you want to expound on the setting, e.g., then add to introduce the setting, behind the stage of a fashion show. Then, get back to your story beats for the scene on which you are presently working.

Writing story beats are refreshing and very helpful to writing a multi-dimensional screenplay, something for which every screenwriter should strive.

Story beats 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6...

How to Write Compelling Fiction

To write compelling fiction, the writer must think in terms of a beginning, a middle, and an end with a defining theme. A main character (protagonist) with a goal must drive the story/plot. Each other character should be a subplot which crisscrosses the plot. They must reflect the theme, and in some way, interact with the main character. The character who opposes the main character can be a antagonist or a villain (represents pure evil with no redeeming characteristics). This character must be seeking the same goal as the main character, but for a different outcome. The stronger the antagonist or villain is, the more powerful the main character becomes and the more compelling the story becomes. In the interaction between the main character and the antagonist, the main character must show a transformation arc, which terminates at the end of the story where he/she has an epiphany that completes their transformation.

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There are numerous challenges that come up
when one is writing and striving to break
through and beyond. In order to “stay with it”,
the writer must look inside of themselves for
something that will carry them through the
difficult times, keep them going, and take
them to success.

Ask yourself the questions below. By writing
them down, you can refer to the answers as you write,
and beyond. These answers will take you into
the depth of yourself where you can clearly see
your main character’s passion. This passion
becomes the main theme of your story.

Passion must be sizzling inside of you. It’s a
human emotion. Your passion for your story
has taken you to this point in time in your
life. What do you want it to be this time
next year? By understanding your and
appropriately utilizing your passion for your
story, your mind will be ratcheted up a few
levels to the point where you are unable to
get the words down fast enough.

By utilizing the main theme of your story, you
can show opposition to it. This creates conflict,
which all good stories need, even comedies.

This main theme, your passion for the story,
will guide and direct you throughout the writing
process. It will cause you to be more creative
and imaginative, which, in turn, will produce
a solid and seamless plot.

The questions are:

1. Who was I when I got the idea for my story?
2. What was I doing?
3. Where was I?
4. When was it?
5. Why did this idea come to me?
6. How did I recognize it?

Be diligent when writing the answers, very
diligent. Shortcut the process and you will
cause shortcut yourself and your opportunities.

I hope this has been of help to you.

Best Regards,

Donald L. Vasicek
Olympus Films+, LLC
“The Zen of Writing/Filmmaking/Consulting